Mei Ling Yeow | The Innovator 25 Asia Pacific 2018
Charting the future of public relations
Innovator 25 AP Mei Ling Yeow

Mei Ling Yeow

MD, Southeast Asia

Text100
Kuala Lumpur

“Perhaps it’s because PR has always been about mitigating risk and not taking it. I think that’s a mistake”

Text100 veteran Mei Ling Yeow transformed Text100’s Kuala Lumpur operation from a traditional tech PR firm into an integrated marketing business with insight-led creative at its heart, resulting in her elevation to MD for Southeast Asia, overseeing the firm’s Singapore operation as well. Text100’s Malaysia client base is reflective of the shift that Yeow has overseen, encompassing tech, FMCG, government and travel, underpinned by excellent creative work. Yeow has also become one of Text100’s key executives as it builds out its regional creative and strategy offer.

How do you define innovation?
Innovation is about looking at a new or existing challenge with a different lens and arriving at a solution that meets the unmet need.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Palau Pledge (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccCmBRLX6ak), a conservation initiative that put the spotlight on Palau’s environmental efforts.  The campaign was simple - the pledge that visitors to the island sign their commitment to protect the island’s ecosystem. It was the Cannes festival’s most highly honored campaign this year, taking home an unmatched three Grand Prix.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
Established brands like GE and Red Bull that want to make a difference, excite their audiences and are willing to take a risk, make a ripple and drive a change in perceptions or real action. Great content and storytelling is at the heart of many a successful campaign and brands that understand this and are willing to invest in audience-centered stand-out storytelling will come out on top.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
Looking for an innovative way to reward employees who are largely millennials, we came up with the idea of rewarding great work and behaviors with travel credits that could be used to subsidize travel (which in turn helped employees recharge and feed their experience bank). It went down a charm with the team — recognition on one hand and travel on the other.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
The late Steve Jobs for his ability to create desire and need before we even knew we needed it.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Play time with my kids.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
A little like Nike says: Just Do It. I’ve always been surprised how the most fearless of communicators often seem to be the most fearful when it comes to embracing innovation. Perhaps it’s because PR has always been about mitigating risk and not taking it. I think that’s a mistake. If we don’t innovate, we don’t progress.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I would design functional yet beautiful working and living spaces that feed the soul and excite the mind.

Favorite book/movie/podcast/article that's not related to PR/marketing/business?
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
Dessert time. Stressed spelt backwards is desserts and a beautifully plated dessert is a truly lovely experience for the senses.